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Five Most Important Juniors on Defense

"Five" is a series of five things, players, thoughts or whatever I think will fill a post.

1. LB Terrance Bullitt | Maybe the most important junior? I'm not sure. I've got Bullitt at #1 on the list, but you could argue that it is more important that some of the defensive linemen come through rather than Bullitt. Maybe the reason why I think that Bullitt is the most important player is because he can get on the field, I think that you could see the similar impact that Smith had during the spring. That's how good I think that Bullitt will be at linebacker and he was already pretty good at safety. I know that Bullitt wasn't awful at making some big plays or having some games where he made a high number of tackles, but the more that I keep moving forward from the abysmal Glasgow-Experiment, the more I think that maybe judging some of these players based on what he was doing with the defense may not be fair. In fact, the more I keep thinking about it, the more I think that a change in defensive coordinator that is more well-liked and more organized can have an decent impact on what we see next year. I've gone to great detail last year about how the team made a ridiculously low amount of big plays and that has to stop with players like Bullitt and some of the players mentioned below.

2. LB Will Smith | Amazing how a player, just based on a spring, is receiving the pre-season praise. Smith was named to Phil Steele's third or fourth All-Big 12 team despite having not played a down. Obviously, that's based off of preseason hype by folks like myself and other writers who continually praise Smith for making play after play during the spring. Luckily for me, the spring game was not a disappointment and Smith wowed the crowed that Saturday afternoon. If Smith can play, and I don't think that there is any doubt that he can play, then one of the spots that was shored up by a true freshman last year is being held by a more phyically mature player that has exhibited the ability to hold the spot and make plays. That is significant.

3. DE Dartwan Bush | Of all of the players that are returning, Bush is the one guy that made a at the very least a handful of big plays, but it was still a paltry amount in retrospect. Everyone says Bush is the best and most physically dominant returning defensive edge player, but we just haven't seen enough of it. Granted, Bush was a mere sophomore last year, playing a bit as a true freshman and receiving a significant amount of time as a sophomore, but for an edge rusher to play they have to get to the passer more than what happened last year. Bush does have an excellent combination of size and speed and I think we all sit here and hope that the Glasgow-Expirament means addition by subtraction and it creates a situation where guys like Bullitt and Bush and Jackson Richards and Branden Jackson(sophomores) can be break-through players.

More after the jump.

4. DT Kerry Hyder | One of my thoughts last year was that the defensive tackles were not physically big enough or strong enough to compete along the defensive line. This was based on nothing more than watching the UT and OSU games and see a defensive line that was being manhandled and pushed around like rag-dolls. The good thing is that the Glasgow-Expirament is now over and the bad thing is that almost every one of those defensive tackles returns. Better hope the Glasgow-Expirament was more significant than we all think. The only addition to the line was Leon Mackey who was a regular sized defensive end. If he adds a 15 to 20 pounds, he's still a 270 or 280 defensive tackle, which is what Hyder was last year. Maybe I'm too enamored with size along the defensive line, but it just makes a bit of sense that if a defensive tackle, especially one playing the A-gap or 1-technique defensive tackle. Hyder is better suited to be a 3-technique defensive tackle, but honestly, I don't know what player is best suited to play that 1-tech defensive tackle. We might not see significant numbers from whoever is a defensive tackle because ideally the 1-tech NG and 3-tech DT (if the TE is lined up on the left side of the field from the defense's perspective, the NG is shaded over the right outside shoulder of the center and the DT is shaded on the outside shoulder of strong side guard) are just plugging up their respective A gaps and B gaps. I'd also add that every one of the projected starters for LSU along the defensive line are under 300 pounds. It's not absolutely necessary that the defensive line be incredibly big, i.e. just because a player is big means that he's good, but rather, the players along the defensive line need to be good football players. I'm willing to give Hyder, Leon Mackey and the below-mentioned Wesley a pass right now for last year, but the clock starts ticking now.

5. S Tre Porter | It's about time for Porter to shine. I almost put DT Dennell Wesley in this spot, as I think Wesley having a significant impact is pretty important, but it may be even more important for Porter to push D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis for significant playing time. I'm not sure that he should take their spots, but it's about time that Porter should be exhibiting the type of player we think he can be. Porter was initially slotted as a cornerback and I think he's still capable of that, but given his overall size, he's very capable of playing safety, but whether it is injuries or whatever, it just hasn't seemed that Porter has put it together. Porter has the ability to be a significant player this year and if he's playing up to his potential then he replaces Johnson or Davis, but that just hasn't happened. I think the coaching staff is very much thinking or hoping that Porter walks into the free safety spot or even strong safety spot next year and the transition is seamless because Porter will have been asked to play quite a bit this year. A lot of this team's success will be dependent on Porter being a player this year because Johnson and Davis can't get all of the snaps.